Japanese grassroots pioneers shortlisted for Rhino award
An organisation set up to promote grassroots rugby in Japan during the Rugby World Cup has been announced as the first finalist for the 2019 Rhino Grassroots Rugby Award.
Grass Roots Rugby Japan 2019 was created up by a group of rugby fans in Tokyo to enable interaction to take place between Japanese and visiting rugby fans during the recently completed Rugby World Cup.
Tokyo-based rugby fans and administrators Kenji Hasui, Shintaro Abe and Hideyuki Ozawa took the lead in organising a series of events during the recent World Cup to provide an opportunity for visiting fans to play social rugby and meet local players and fans ahead of major games.
The events included hosting an International Parliamentary XV (assembled by Paul Farrelly MP), London Japanese RFC, Chester-le-Street RFC and a touring party of teams from Shanghai for social games ahead of Rugby World Cup matches.
Kenji Hasui, Hideyuki Ozawa and Shintaro Abe receive their Finalist award from Reg Clark in Tokyo the day before the Rugby World Cup Final
All the games hosted by the group featured the tagline 'bring your boots' to encourage local players to get involved and play a game against touring opposition.
Rhino CEO Reg Clark commented: “In a country in which basic playing and clubhouse facilities are in short supply, it was a great effort on the part of these three guys and their friends to put in so much work to enable visiting rugby fans from all over the world not just to visit Japan to watch RWC games, but equally importantly to play social rugby with local fans, and enjoy a beer with them before heading to those games.
"I know from attending the second event how much appreciated it was by the visitors from Shanghai. GRR Japan 2019 are a very worthy Finalist for the Rhino Grassroots Rugby Award this year. Many congratulations to them.”
Three more finalists will be revealed in the coming weeks, with the winner announced on 17th December, 2019.
Previous winners of the Rhino Grassroots Rugby Award
2015 TAG RUGBY TRUST (UK)
2016 KAMPUCHEA BALOPP (Cambodia)
2017 SKRUM (Swaziland)
2018 SHIBUYA INTERNATIONAL RUGBY CLUB (Japan)